Category: Essential Economics for Business: Ch 11

The Budget 2008 was quite an under-stated affair, but was the first delivered by Alistair Darling as Chancellor. As ever, many of the changes had been announced well in advance, reducing the element of surprise. But the Budget remains an important event. Note that the Budget websites can also be useful reference sources for economic policy changes.

Budget 2008 Guardian Budget Special
Interactive: Budget 2008 Guardian (11/03/08)
What to tell us on Budget day: where our money is going and how it can be stopped Guardian (10/03/08)
Budget 2008 BBC News Online Budget Special

Videos and podcasts

Old Mother Hubbard Guardian (13/03/08)
Budget speech in full (Video) BBC News Online (12/03/08)

For details of the Budget measures, you may want to look at:
Budget 2008 HM Treasury Budget pages HM Treasury Budget microsite HM Treasury (March 08)

Questions

1. What are the key changes in the Budget? What effects are they likely to have on the economy?
2. Assess the extent to which this Budget can be considered a ‘Green Budget’.
3. How has the Budget changed the overall fiscal position of the government?
4. Discuss the likely impact of the Budget on small and large businesses.

Shell have announced record profits of $27bn. This is the highest profit ever made by a European company and is only surpassed worldwide by the annual profits of another oil company ExxonMobil at $40bn. These high profits have led to calls for a windfall tax to be imposed on the oil companies and the articles below consider the likely impact of a tax of this nature.

Threat of windfall tax to energy companies is ‘legalised piracy’ Times Online (28/2/08)
Tax uncertainty a sure-fire killer Times Online (28/2/08)
Q&A: Windfall tax on Shell BBC News Online (31/1/08)
The great fuel folly Guardian (5/2/08)

Video

Windfall tax suggested for fuel profits BBC News Online (February 2008)

Questions

1. Using diagrams as appropriate, show the impact on the equilibrium level of price and output of Shell of a windfall tax being imposed on their profits.
2. Discuss the extent to which the high level of profitability of oil companies is determined by the oil price.
3. Analyse whether a windfall tax is an economically efficient form of taxation. What alternatives could a government consider that might be more efficient?

China’s rate of inflation has hit an 11-year high, partly due to the cold winter weather destroying crops and pushing up food prices. However, inflationary pressure has been growing for some time with rapid economic growth and the resultant pressure on resources. This is despite six increases in interest rates in the past thirteen months.

Families feel pinch as inflation threatens economic miracle Guardian (25/2/08)
Chinese inflation soars to an 11-year high Times Online (20/2/08)
Chinese inflation hits 11 year high Times Online (19/2/08)

Questions

1. Explain the principal factors that have led to the increase in inflation in China.
2. “Policymakers in China will likely try to tighten monetary policy further, with more reserve requirement ratio hikes, faster Chinese yuan appreciation, and more heavy handed controls over bank lending.” Discuss the likely effectiveness of these policy measures.
3. Assess the extent to which changes in food prices will affect the overall level of aggregate demand in the Chinese economy.

The Chancellor Alistair Darling announced in February that Northern Rock – the beleaguered bank – was to be temporarily nationalised. The government had been unable to agree terms with prospective buyers and so decided that temporary nationalisation was the best way to proceed. The move has met with sharp criticism from shareholders and many commentators, but was supported by the Liberal Democrats who had argued from the outset that this was the best solution to the crisis.

Northern Rock shareholders will argue that nationalisation is theft Times Online (20/2/08)
Reaction to Northern Rock nationalisation Guardian (18/2/08)
‘Our shares are worthless’ say the Rock’s furious investors Times Online(18/2/08)
Northern Rock reclassified as public company Guardian (7/2/08)
Northern Rock staff warned of job cuts Guardian (7/2/08)
Q&A: Nationalised Northern Rock – what next? BBC News Online (18/2/08)
Northern Rock crisis (Special Report) BBC News Online

Video


Northern Rock nationalisation BBC News Online (February 2008)

Questions

1. Explain what is meant by nationalisation.
2. Examine the advantages and disadvantages of privatisation. Why was privatisation introduced as a strategy in the 1980s?
3. Discuss the advantages and disadvantages of temporarily nationalising Northern Rock.

The government has proposed charging a levy to people who claim non-dom (non-resident) status in the UK. This levy of £30,000 will be charged on people with non-dom status who choose to shelter their earnings in overseas tax havens. An intensive campaign against the tax has been launched by various elements of the media.

It’s hardly Bolshevism to propose taxing non-doms Guardian (9/2/08)
Treasury adviser Bob Wigley slams non-dom tax Times Online (10/2/08)
Nabbing the non-doms Times Online (10/2/08)
Jones breaks ranks to claim non-dom plan hits low-paid Guardian (9/2/08)
Non-dom crackdown could hit low-paid Guardian (8/2/08)

Questions

1. Explain the way in which the non-dom tax levy would operate. How would this levy be classified – progressive, regressive or flat-rate?
2. Assess the arguments for and against the imposition of a levy on non-doms.
3. Evaluate two alternative policies for the taxation of non-residents of the UK.